Social policy plays a very important role in the social quality of Europe, and not only because it considerably affects the life conditions of the population. I will argue that its structure and weight affects at least as much: (a) the possibility of acknowledging as common goods social benefits such as health, education, social security; and (b) the presence of public discourse arenas about these goods, where the daily life of democracy is carried out. This is why social policy holds a great importance even for the building of European democracy, and for Europe's socio-political integration in itself.
This article focuses on the economic aspects of German European policy in the 1950s and raises the question whether the economic system of the Federal Republic of Germany, “Soziale Marktwirtschaft” had any impact on the European policy of the West German state. It argues that Social Market Economy as defined by Ludwig Erhard influenced German European policy in certain aspects, but there was a latent contradiction between the political approach of Konrad Adenauer and this economic concept. Moreover, this article shows that West German European policy was not always as supportive for European unity as it is often considered.
Stephen Padgett, William E. Paterson, and Reimut Zohlnhöfer, ed. Developments in German Politics 4. 4th Revised edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
Simon Green and Ed Turner, ed. Understanding the Transformation of Germany’s CDU (London: Routledge, 2014)
Ştefan Sorin Mureşan, Social Market Economy: The Case of Germany (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2014).
James C. Van Hook
Economics and economic history have a fundamental role to play in our understanding of Cold War Germany. Yet, it is still difficult to establish concrete links between economic phenomena and the most important questions facing post 1945 historians. Obviously, one may evaluate West Germany's “economic miracle,” the success of western European integration, or the end of communism in 1989 from a purely economic point of view. To achieve a deeper understanding of Cold War Germany, however, one must evaluate whether the social market economy represented an adequate response to Nazism, if memory and perspective provided the decisive impulse for European integration, or if the Cold War ended in Europe because of changes in western nuclear strategy. Economic history operates in relation to politics, culture, and historical memory. The parameters for economic action are often as determined by the given political culture of the moment, as they are by the feasibility of alternative economic philosophies.
Language, Truth and Politics
You might think that British socialists have cause for rejoicing, given the 1997 landslide Labour victory and the end of nearly two decades of corrupt, divisive, and morally repugnant Conservative rule. However, there are clear signs already that the Blair ‘administration’ – note the shift to U.S. policyspeak – is in the process of dumping what little remained of its socialist values and principles. On a whole range of issues – taxation, education, social welfare, health care, union laws, market deregulation, the supply of British arms to repressive regimes – it is now plain to see that the government has decided to adopt the maxim ‘business as before’, with just a few minor face-saving adjustments. What we are getting, for the most part, is a fashionable strain of communitarian talk (‘social markets’, ‘ethical investment’, ‘welfare to work’, ‘tough on crime and on the causes of crime’, etc.) as a cover for policies that have scarcely changed since the heyday of Thatcherite orthodoxy.
Christopher S. Allen
For much of the past two decades since unification, the literature on the German economy has largely focused on the erosion of the German model of organized capitalism and emphasized institutional decline and the corresponding rise of neoliberalism. The first part of the article analyzes the strains unification placed on German economic performance that caused many observers to call for modification of the model in a more neo-liberal direction. The second part takes a different focus and lays out the main rationale of the paper. It inquires why such a coordinated market economy was created in the first place and whether a renewed form of it might still be useful for Germany, the European Union, and other developed democracies in the early twenty-first century. The third section articulates the origins of the institutional and ideational components of these coordinated market economy models, during both the Bismarckian and Social Market Economy periods. The final portion inquires whether the failure of the contemporary liberal market economy approach in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis and severe recession represents a possible opening for the creation of a third coordinated market economy not only for Germany but for a redesigned European Union.